Ack! Yes, I am still alive/here/sewing. Yes, I am still doing Me-Made-May (though I have been dreadfully bad at obtaining photographic evidence – more on that later). And although I had all last week totally off, as in a whole week between ending my old job and starting my new one, I still felt like I had no time! I’m not sure why I was totally unmotivated to post last week, but I did sew some stuff at least. More on that later too. For now, I just need to catch up a bit and share this dress that I made during my last week at my old job:
It’s another of the ubiquitous Cynthia Rowley designs, Simplicity 2406. The idea to make this dress suddenly sprung fully formed, from, I don’t know, the head of Zeus or something, a couple months ago. I honestly think this pattern wore me down – when I first saw it I remember thinking, “what is with those sleeves?” and dismissing it as a crazy thing I would never like. But it kept popping up, on blogs, on Pattern Review, every time I went to the Cynthia Rowley section of the Simplicity website… and then when I saw this fabric online at FFC I just knew it was for this dress. A big part of the fully formed dress idea was the decision to wear it for graduation at work (my students’ graduation, not mine), which would also be my last day there. That idea stuck with me all through making it, all the way until about two hours before graduation began, when I decided that the hot weather and the amount of hugging tall people I would be doing made wearing my Lonsdale dress more practical. So this dress was orphaned as quickly as it was conceived. But you know, I really do like it a lot (the pictures are actually what won me over completely), so I’m sure I’ll find another occasion to wear it.
As for the pattern itself, hey, it’s another sack-dress-with-sash! This one, though, is I think a much better drafted sack than Vogue 1226, and there’s just the right amount of blousy without being puffy. The sash is very wide and ends up looking a lot like an obi belt, which I like. The neckline is gathered just the right amount, and I like the back slit detail, though I shortened mine to make it, you know, possible to wear a bra. I shortened the back facing to what I thought was a bra-safe length, but then I chickened out during construction and sewed it up even further than I initially planned. As it turned out my original guesstimate was correct and I could safely have had a larger slit, but oh well, at least the design feature is not completely lost. My covered button and its elastic thread loop, however, are totally invisible in pictures, but that is how the top is closed. (Point of interest: I can get the dress over my head with it buttoned, so I think if you wanted to eliminate the back slit entirely you would not need a zipper.)
All right, let’s talk about those sleeves. I’ve been seeing the cut-out shoulder on RTW stuff everywhere, but it’s one of those design features that I’m just waiting for its moment to be over. I kind of like it, but I confess to feeling weird for liking something so quote-unquote on trend. I guess I like to be unfashionable? Anyway, I’m going with it here. Construction wise, I thought it was kind of funny that the sleeves are put together using the magic sleeveless dress lining technique, only in miniature. There’s an excellent visual tutorial here, because the Simplicity diagram is vague at best. You can see above that they do stick out a bit when I’ve got my arms down, but they do in the pattern photo too, and I’m okay with it. I imagine in a stiffer fabric they’d stick out more, and just generally be more annoying to construct too. This really is a lightweight-fabric type of pattern, I think.
Speaking of fabric, this one is amazing. I love that the print is lots of little dots, so it’s got the ditzy floral vibe without actually being a floral at all. But the fabric itself is heavenly. FFC listed it as an “Italian Cotton Shirting”, and it’s got a hand like a Liberty lawn. Light, soft, and so easy to press into submission! It did just what I wanted it to the whole time I was sewing, and reminded me why 100% cotton can be so nice to work with. It wrinkles though for sure, and it’s a little too sheer to wear without a half slip, but still. I want 100 more yards of this stuff. As it was, I only had 2 3/8 yards at 45 inches wide, and it was a real squeeze because for some inexplicable reason Simplicity has the sash listed separately from the dresses on the yardage chart and I missed it. But after much Tetrising of pieces and very careful cutting, I managed it by just making the sash a 1/2 inch less wide. Hooray!
The nitty-gritty details: I cut a 10 on top grading to a 12 on bottom. Like the Vogue, it’s a smidgen snug across the butt, but totally wearable. The length was perfect as drafted with a 1.25 inch hem (which is a little wonky because I’m still figuring out the intricacies of my blind hem stitch, but I pressed the heck out of it and it’s all right). I interfaced the facings because the fabric was so light, but I’ve been using the fancy Pro-Sheer Elegance interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply and it’s quite nice and unobtrusive. I still hate cutting and fusing interfacing, though. And it all came together pretty easliy. Thanks for another good one, Cynthia!